- Central CInema
- The fruits of a lifetime spent watching random videos found at garage sales and Salvation Armies.
For the past ten years and counting, the Found Footage Festival has toured the country, with co-founders founders Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett presenting their carefully curated found video treasures on the big screen. Tomorrow and Friday, the Found Footage Festival land at Seattle's Central Cinema. In advance of the shows (one on Thursday, two on Friday), I chatted up Nick Preuher about all things FFF.
One thing people should know right off the bat about the Found Footage Festival is what you mean by "found." You do not mean "Googled."
Nick Preuher: It seems like cheating to type something in a search engine. We do it the old-fashioned way, going to thrift stores, estate sales, garage sales. The hard part is watching them.
Can you estimate the ratio of "hours of garbage watched" to "minutes of delightful material found"?
I'd estimate it takes about 30 hours of video to provide a handful of usable nuggets. We're gluttons for punishment—we don't hit fast forward, because we're afraid we're going to miss something. Sometimes things don't reveal themselves until you see the full picture. It can be torture, like the sunny Saturday afternoon I spent indoors watching a cash-register instructional video. But then you find a video of something like how to have cybersex on the internet and it's all worth it. It's almost like sitting through the bad stuff makes the good stuff better.
Over your years of hunting, has your aim for finding good material improved?
We've been collecting since 1991, and at the beginning, we'd pick up anything. Now we're more selective. Some things that catch our eyes are anything with a celebrity—just last week we found a guide to plastic surgery with Phyllis Diller. If it looks like there's a hint of corporate people rapping, or an executive with sunglasses, that's a very good sign. We might be onto something here. And we'll watch any exercise video we haven't seen yet.
In addition to curating, you also produce videos of your own, such as the legendary Kenny Strasser videos. What inspired you to start exploring local morning television as a comedic medium?
We were touring, so we thought about booking ourselves on local morning shows as we traveled, but local morning shows are so insipid and so early that they don't work as actual promotion for us, so we thought we could book a fake person just as easily. That's how Kenny Strasser, the environmentally friendly yo-yo expert came about. It was so much fun, and we got so much mileage out of it, we decided to make it a tradition. Last Thanksgiving, we tried out a new character—Chef Keith Guerke, here to show you how to spruce up your holiday leftovers, which was basically just me throwing a bunch of stuff in a blender, coming up with the grossest concoctions, to see if the TV hosts would try them. The hosts were very polite, and four out of five sampled what I made. We'll be showing some of that stuff—stuff that's not online—and telling the story of Chef.
What else should people know in advance about the new show?
It's the most unsettling show we've ever done. We're having to dig deeper and deeper for material. In this show are two never-before-seen body parts and there's a locally found video from Seattle, which we found last time we were here. It's an arts and crafts how-to video, found at the Salvation Army, from a company called Tulip, which makes mostly puffy paints for clothes. The video's from 1988, and it opens with three-minute music video and song that's like 1988 throwing up all over the screen.